HC Deb 17 January 2002 vol 378 c431W
Mr. Menzies Campbell

To ask the Solicitor-General what estimate her Department has made of the cost to its budget since 1 May 1997 of fraud; and if she will make a statement. [27289]

The Solicitor-General

There have been no instances of fraud within the Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers during the period since 1 May 1997 and no cost to its budget.

There have been no instances of fraud within the Serious Fraud Office since 1 May 1997 and no cost to its budget.

Although the Treasury Solicitor's Department has suffered three frauds since 1 May 1997, none has involved any cost to the budget of that Department. The first, in 1998, was a fraud within Government Property Lawyers, which at that time was a separate agency, and involved the improper use of client money, resulting in a loss of £1.2 million to the Exchequer. The second, in 2000, was the theft of jewellery to the value of £250 which reduced the proceeds of Bona Vacantia to the Consolidated Fund. The third, in 2001, involved the misappropriation of £170,000 from the proceeds of Bona Vacantia through the use of forged wills. The loss was to the Consolidated Fund. Of the sum lost, £47,000 has since been recovered and action continues to recover further sums. Details of the three frauds are set out in the Annual Fraud Report, copies of which are available in the Library.

There have been seven instances of fraud against the Crown Prosecution Service since 1 May 1997 involving a total cost to the budget of £8,426.98.

Fraud is treated seriously by all the Departments for which the Attorney-General is responsible. There are cost implications against budgets from maintaining proactive systems of financial control and governance seeking to ensure fraud against the Departments does not occur. Such costs are, however, an integral part of the general management of the Departments and are not separately assessable.